define beauty

My daughter, who is 11 years old, told me the other day that she thought that I was the most beautiful woman she’d ever met. We were doing our daily rituals in the bathroom, primping and fixing our hair and, needless to say, I didn’t feel so beautiful when she said that. But before I could say my usual detraction, “No, I’m not beautiful.” or “Yeah, right, sure!”, I actually had a revelation!

I thought, in that split second,  “What am I teaching her with my negative responses?”  Am I not teaching her that women should be insecure and put themselves down when they recieve a compliment? How many times in a day do our daughters, nieces, students, etc. hear us put ourselves down? How many times do they hear us criticize ourselves? How many times do they see us turn a compliment from a friend into a cut down? Or how many times do they hear us say we need to diet, or change the way we look, or complain about a small imperfection?  This is not how I want my daughter to be!   But how can I empower my daughter to be confident and love herself?

I knew I had to change my answer…

So I told her, “Well, I wasn’t always this beautiful, you know?” See, I owned it!  I didn’t reject her compliment!  I accepted her compliment without hesitation!  And hopefully, be doing so, I empowered her to own her future compliments, too!

“Really??” she said. Ha! I knew I had her then! She was definitely interested in what I was going to say!

“Yeah, I didn’t always take good care of myself” I told her.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, to be this beautiful takes a lot of work and care.  And when I was younger, I had a low self-esteem so I never took care of myself.   I suffered from acne, I was overweight, and very shy. And I had to learn, throughout the years, that no one is “naturally” beautiful, no woman just wakes up gorgeous.  Even the models in magazines get fixed up for hours before a photo shoot, and even then, they throw out all the bad pictures and only show you the best.  And it’s not just what you do in front of the mirror, either, that makes you beautiful.”

“Why? What else makes you beautiful?” she said.

“Well, you have to take care of yourself from the inside out.  You don’t have to be perfect or look like anyone else but you can be the best version of yourself. Good skin and a healthy body comes from eating right, staying active, and having a positive outlook on life!  True beauty is being healthy from the inside out. Healthy Body. Healthy Mind. Healthy Attitude.”

And then she rolls her eyes and says, “Mom, I’m not one of your girls in your Beauty Revolution classes! I know what real beauty is!!!!” Great! She got it! I’ve made her an empowered girl with an attitude!!

So I promise to own all of the compliments that I receive and give women everywhere the permission to feel beautiful and be confident! Maybe if we all do this, our daughters, nieces, sisters, etc., will be empowered to redefine beauty for the next generation!